MONEY!

Google Bans Payday Lending Ads

MONEY!

MONEY!

In an interesting turn of events, Google announced on May 11 that it will no longer service online advertisements from Payday Lending companies starting July 13. This decision came due to increasing pressure (from civil liberties, consumer protection and consumer privacy groups) to make a change in advertising policy.

Many of these advocacy groups feel that Payday Lending services often target weaker consumers that are in poverty, forcing them to pay extremely high interest rates for short term money loans. Consumers frequently use these loans to cover expenses that they are unable to afford before their next paycheck comes. According to a report by Yahoo! Finance, a 2012 Pew study stated that “the average payday borrower is in debt for five months, spending $520 in fees and interest to repeatedly borrow $375.” Interest rates easily reach triple digit values, averaging around 391%. These high rates can generate billions of dollars in revenue for many of the larger Payday Lenders, which many feel is an unethical business practice.

Although many consumers are happy that Google is stepping in to combat these issues, a number of Payday Lending advocates, believe that this mandate is discriminatory, undermining the integrity of honest Payday Lending companies. In a statement recently obtained by the Washington Post, the Community Financial Services Association of America has stated “Facebook and others are making a blanket assessment about the payday lending industry rather than discerning the good actors from the bad actors. This is unfair toward those that are legal, licensed lenders.”

The Washington Post article also states that one of the more dangerous aspects of using the Google search to find a lender is the fact that extremely sensitive financial information can be gleaned by the search engine. Once a desperate consumer enters their personal information, consumers can be taken advantage of by ads designed to target their financial profile. The companies they find may not end up just being unethical — they are likely to be more expensive than using a brick and mortar lender due to online fees.

Despite Google blocking Payday Lender’s advertisements, consumers are still able to use the engine to search for lenders and investigate their websites. Although Google’s aggressive action will not completely mitigate the risks of using Payday Lenders, it will at least curtail the efforts of the less ethical ones.

 

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Where Do You Stand?

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How do you react when you are outside of your comfort zone? Are you a natural at mingling and an ace at taking the stage? Or do you cringe just thinking about the  prospect?

Whether you’re a social butterfly or have a proclivity toward being shy, social psychologist Amy Cuddy claims you can influence how people perceive you—confidence levels, leadership skills, friendliness, and competence based solely on your  body language.

Here, a few interesting takeaways from Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk: 

1. Others judge us based on our body language. Closed and withdrawn positions are  often associated with inferiority or passivity, while triumphant, confident poses are linked with power.

2. How we see ourselves can be influenced by our own body language.

3. Pretending to feel certain emotions by posturing (forcing a smile or placing hands confidently on the hips) can lead us to actually feel said emotions.

4. Adopting powerful body language can change us on a physiological level (triggering testosterone and cortisol levels).

5. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. Cuddy suggests holding a strong, dominant posture for two minutes before heading into a potentially stressful situation, like a job interview.

To view Cuddy’s presentation in full, click here.

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Back-to-School-Shopping

Back to School Trends

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You loaded up the kids on school supplies weeks ago… but don’t think you’re finished with back-to-school prep just yet. You’ve still got the season’s fashion trends to consider for your teen or tween. As is the case with every school year, last year’s looks have hibernated after the long summer and have ushered in a fresh new palette of colors, textures and themes.

According to Teen Vogue, fall girls’ fashion will incorporate plenty of plaids, wools, oversized cardigans, fringe, pastels, layered looks, ’90s throwback (including lots of denim on denim) and ’60s Chelsea girl mod (shift dresses, cat-eye makeup). High-waisted jeans are in for girls too (previously dubbed “mom jeans”). Guys meanwhile are leaning more fashionable than past years, sporting preppy-meets-bad-boy apparel.

Blazers, denim jackets and leather jackets are back in, as are skinny khakis, bright-hued denim and patterned slip-on sneakers. Backpacks will likely need replacing, and this year’s stock is all about colorful prints and patterns. Don’t be surprised if your student asks for a new iPhone cover too (even though his old one is perfectly fine); smartphone cases are big venues for personalization.  

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Cocard: Proud Sponsor of the AJC Decatur Book Festival!

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The 2014 AJC Decatur Book Festival is finally upon us…

…and for the third year in a row, Cocard is a proud sponsor. We love our city, and we support local businesses and events to the fullest of our abilities. We are proud to call Decatur, GA our home and the AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest and best festival of its kind!

This year, We will be providing an Information Booth near the bandstand on Decatur Square. Please stop by and introduce yourself. Feel free to ask us questions about the Festival or our services. See what Cocard can do for your business — we might even have a little something special to give you!

More about the Decatur Book Festival:

Over Labor Day weekend, tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond will share the historic downtown Decatur square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, booksellers, and artists for a weekend filled with literature, music, food, art, and fun.

Stay tuned for the online schedule of author events. It’s going to be the biggest celebration of the written word yet. Welcome to Decatur, friends—we’re glad you’re here for the party.

  • Check out the Decatur Book Festival blog!
  • Follow the Decatur Book Festival Twitter !
  • Friend the Decatur Book Festival Facebook!
  • Sign up for the Decatur Book Festival newsletter!
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Back to School

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The fall is fast approaching, and that means several things; everyone’s favorite sports are back, the weather becomes more bearable, and students are returning to school. As the semester begins, merchants may see a marked change in their merchants’ business sales; retail merchants may see a slight spike in back to school product purchases, while late night restaurants and college hangouts may notice a subtle decrease in revenue. Regardless of the market, the annual change of pace that comes with the fall semester can still be used to a merchant’s benefit. Here’s a few tips to tackle the return of school correctly:

Take advantage of the opportunities presented with college students returning to class; sign your business up for display at a few job fairs to scout local talent, and potentially find a hidden gem. With so many bright young minds currently attending college, there’s no limit to the potential at your fingertips.

As a business owner, consider whether or not taking a few courses in the fall could benefit you. Are you seeking another degree? Or are you simply just interested in learning more about economics or marketing strategy? It’s not too late to register for a few courses, and you just might learn a bit more than you expect. As you get more educated in the classroom, take some time to learn a bit more about CoCard as well. As a cutting-edge merchant services provider, many of CoCard’s current marketing strategies align directly with the same materials covered in college classrooms. CoCard even has an education center, just for merchants like you!

Stay on top of your kids! With all of the changes that come with the fall semester, it can be easy to lose track of your own child’s schoolwork and activities. Stay in tune with their daily schedules, and be sure to keep track of their grades from beginning to end. Managing a business and a family is never an easy task, but making small strides each day significantly reduces the difficulty.

Welcome the new school year with open arms, and have a plan for the coming months. Although school can be a difficult thing to handle at times, don’t forget to stay positive and look for the potential benefits involved with it. Take some time to get a little more educated with CoCard’s education center, and think about whether or not it’s time for you to make a change. If you have any questions or concerns about how CoCard can assist you in the coming months, call us today!

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Popcorn Report

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You know the drill: Summer is synonymous with major movie releases. Cue the action-hero flick and the anticipated all-star rom-com. Now that the first day of summer has officially come and gone, here’s what’s on our film-viewing radar for the next couple of months:
 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
Starring Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Keri Russell, this ape-driven action flick chronicles the battle between a nation of genetically evolved apes and a tribe of human survivors.
 
Boyhood(July 18)
We’re interested to see how Director Richard Linklater’s (the guy behind Dazed and Confused) 12-year project pans out in a story that captures a boy’s childhood from ages 5 to 18. The indie flick stars Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.
 
Sex Tape (July 18)
Funny leading actors, Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, portray a frantic couple who discover their sex tape has gone missing.
 
Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18)
Disney returns with a sequel to Planes in this family-friendly animated feature. Starring voices from Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen and a host of others, this flick follows crop-duster plane, Dusty, as he joins a crew of aerial firefighters.
 
Wish I Was Here (July 18)
Scrubs alum Zach Braff is pushing out his anticipated second directorial effort after his surprise 2004 indie hit Garden State. FeaturingBraff, Kate Hudson, Ashley Greene and Josh Gad.
 
Hercules (July 25)
Dwayne Johnson rocks armor and sandals in his portrayal of the famed demigod alongside John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes. Expect lots of battles, blood and sword wielding.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
Comic book aficionados, your Marvel hit for the summer follows a manhunt by the “guardians of the galaxy” as they join half human/half alien Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) in stopping a master villain from destroying the universe. Starring Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Josh Brolin, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro and John C. Riley, among others.
 
A Most Wanted Man (September 5)
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s posthumous spy thriller surrounds a Chechen Muslim’s escape and capture in Hamburg, Germany during the international war on terror, and boasts an all-star cast of Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams.
 
Watch trailers for these and other films here.
 
Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Mad Men or Sherlock? Share your latest Netflix binge with us on Facebook.  

 

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Growing New Farmers

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Contemplating adding the title of “farmer” to your growing repertoire of talents? Now just may be the perfect time. According to an announcement by the U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden at last month’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee meeting, attractive new implementations and policy changes are being made to the Farm Bill that offer financial security to newbie farmers and ranchers.

Since the average age of the U.S. farmer is 58 and older, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to attract fresh faces to the field with these appealing new perks. Among said incentives are: waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers looking to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for 2014; increasing pay rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the development of a farmers website full of helpful need-to-know info for wannabe growers.

In the near future, the USDA is also looking to bring discounted insurance premiums to beginner farmers. Has the idea grown on you yet?

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Unified Development Ordinance

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CoCard can be found in the beautiful community of Decatur, Georgia. Although our grassroots community is one of the most economically sound, and intriguing in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it still requires many improvements.

Many members of the community are either aware of, or actively involved in a community uplift project entitled the ‘Unified Development Ordinance’,.  For those who aren’t, ‘UDO’ is a collaborative citizen effort initiated due to the rapid economic and residential development of Decatur. This project has been put in place to help combat a plethora of conflicting regulations that have been in place long before community uplift began.

Read more about the Unified Development Ordinance here.

A majority of the UDO consists of cleaning and tightening Decatur’s library of existing development regulations, forming a unified document for practice.  A small portion consists of community gatherings and informational meetings, organized with the intention to reach a consensus on  regulations that are particularly hard to agree on.

These meetings discuss various issues in the community that play large roles in lifestyle, including: zoning categories for different residential demographics, sustainability for the environment and resources, storm water protocol for residents, and community character.

CoCard is an active member in the community of Decatur, and we offer our full support to all efforts looking to improve the quality of living for residents. CoCard  also provides electronic payment processing services for businesses located in Decatur and across the US, and we   believe that the well-being of the community is   a constant call to action for us. Whether you’re a business owner in Decatur looking to improve the community, or simply an entrepreneur looking for a secure electronic payment and fraud prevention service, CoCard is definitely the service for you!

Read more about CoCard here.

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How to Have Your Best Business Vacation Ever

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A recent survey done by American Express OPEN shows that small business owners are more comfortable taking summer vacations this year than any other year during the recession.

According to the survey, a reported 60% of respondents (small business owners) are planning a week-long vacation for this summer. This is a tremendous leap from last year’s record low 49%, and the highest percentage since 2006. The Small Business Monitor is crediting this increase to a rise in economic confidence on behalf of business owners, as well as in general optimism for sales.

Because so many small business owners are going on vacation this summer, it may be hard to keep the balance in the workplace. Here are a few tips to help you keep your business on track, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Stop waiting for the perfect trip

For many business owners, the only reason they don’t actually take a vacation is because they don’t believe any options are convenient. Constantly looking for the perfect week in Paris, or that extended stay in Hawaii, business owners can miss simple opportunities to just get away. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, just somewhere that‘s unfamiliar and keeps your mind away from your office. A trip to the mountains can provide you solitude that promotes both productivity and relaxation. Wherever you decide to go, just go somewhere.

Plan for your return

Although you’re leaving your office for a period of time, you’re probably still thinking about everything that’s still left to be done in your absence. Instead of beating yourself up about what needs to get done, make a list of everything you want to accomplish on your return, and leave it at that. Make a few quick edits or additions to the list when an idea hits you, but other than that, make the list and leave it alone.

Sleep in

This can be a very hard concept to grasp when you actually have the time to do it. A lot of us get so caught up in the daily grind of waking up early and going to bed late, when we actually have the time to rest, it almost feels wrong. Catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed in recent weeks, and make it a point to do EVERYTHING on your own time. You spend every waking moment living on a schedule, how about you just take the day on as it comes?

Check in when YOU feel like it

Many small business owners tend to forget that the purpose of a vacation is to actually get away from work. Often times, owners will get sucked into making sure things are still on track while they’re away from the office. A true vacation means unplugging completely from work and only providing contact for emergency situations. Obviously, it’s not recommended that you abandon your staff in entirety, so putting a little time aside each day to check emails and voice messages is a good strategy. Maybe thirty minutes here or there, just don’t let staying in the loop dictate your vacation.

Bring your family

Working with your own business can have you so consumed in your office culture that you lose touch with the whole reason you’re even there; make sure to include your close friends and family on your vacation to restore balance to your life. Catch up with friends, see how your kid is feeling, give your significant other a day of attention. Don’t lose the queen trying to protect the castle.

Give your employees the reins, see who steps up

In any business, there are employees beneath the managers who have high potential to lead in the future. When you take your leave, make sure you let these people know the responsibilities and expectations you have set for them. They should be the ones that you know can keep your business moving seamlessly in your absence. Who works the fastest? Who gets the most done each day? Who understands your vision? These are important questions to ask, and the answers that you get will ultimately decide who is next in line to run your business.

Enjoy the moment

This may sound like a cut-and-dry statement, but always take time to actually appreciate your vacation. Stop and look, try some food you’ve never had before, take a lot of pictures; do everything in your power to make the trip as memorable as possible. Often times, moments of inspiration and epiphanies hit us when we are at the peak of positive thought. You may become inspired with an ingenious business idea while enjoying your time off, and who knows, it could make all the difference for your next quarter.

Get excited!

Although planning a vacation somewhere can be stressful for a multitude of reasons, that’s still not a good enough reason to dread the process. Sure, packing, booking, and the actual traveling process can be a tax, but once all of that is out of the way, you feel great! Often times, just anticipating a new adventure can be enough to get you through a tough day you’re having. Use the potential for a great, memorable experience to motivate you through your last few days of work. Having something to look forward to boosts your morale, happiness, and promotes positive thought.

 

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